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Little House on the Prairie: Anti-Indian racism & capitalism in reruns

Little House on the Prairie: Anti-Indian racism & capitalism in reruns

“Little House on the Prairie” by Laura Ingalls Wilder was an award winning children’s book that is a staple of grade school and junior high school reading classes. And it is a very political piece of right wing weltanschauung.  All children’s books are political, but this series was deliberately constructed to produce an appealing response against socialism.

Laura’s father, “Pa,” is the hero of the story.  If you asked many people to describe him, he is the folksy and loving head of the household that pulled the family up by their proverbial bootstraps.  He was also a squatter, a proto-Sooner, a person who many of us on the left call a settler. 

Settlers are the shock troops of colonization.  The “great” powers of Europe learned quickly how to take a disloyal rabble and turn them into useful members of conquest of “The New World.”  Taking a page from Machiavelli’s “The Prince,” the Great Powers swindled land from the Native Americans through unequal trade and easy credit and then sold it at low cost to rowdy working-class white people with the assumption that they would defend it to the death. 

And they did. 

And they even initiated their own massacres and conquests.  One of the main rivers and transportation routes in Pennsylvania is the Susquehanna, named after the Susquehannock and Conestoga People.  Where are they today?  Absorbed into other tribes after their land was stolen and many their people were slaughtered by the Paxton Boys before the Revolutionary War.

Laura’s daughter Rose was a rightwing political theorist and “journalist” —of her journalism Patricia Nelson Limerick stated, “[she] embraced a style of journalism untroubled by concern for truth or accuracy.”

Rose Wilder Lane, Isabel Patterson, and Ayn Rand were the founders of libertarianism. 

Libertarianism has as an idea at its core the human experience should be transactional and that humans are white. 

Transactional means every action should bring a financial reward. 

Rose Wilder Lane encouraged (or some say helped a great deal as in was the ghostwriter) her mother Laura to write down her experiences of self-sufficiency of her pioneer life as an antidote to communism and government interference. 

The Little House books have a capitalist and rightwing purpose.  The aspirational self-sufficiency that she promotes is all pretty ironic considering how Charles Ingalls acquired his land.  Laura’s life was spent in Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Minnesota, and North Dakota.  In the “Little House in the Big Woods,”  Charles Ingalls and his brother-in-law Henry Quiner purchased a tract of 160 acres of dense forest for $333 in 1863.  Those cheap lands ($2 an acre) had been recently lived on by Ho-Chunk Nation that were removed after the Treaty of 1837.   In 1869, the Ingalls family squatted on Osage Nation Territory in Kansas right on the border of Indian Territory for a year.  They returned to their Wisconsin Farm after the buyer defaulted on the mortgage for 3 years before moving to far western Minnesota Walnut Grove were they lived on a Preemption claim (more former Native American land.)  In 1879 they moved to De Smet, South Dakota where they claimed a homestead (more former Native American land.)  In every case, the land was “claimed” (and in one case denied) through the heavy hand of government intervention.

White immigrants and migrants were given access to swindled Native American Land through the government policy called the Homestead Act. The Homestead Act, enacted during the Civil War in 1862, provided that any adult citizen, or intended citizen, who had never borne arms against the U.S. government could claim 160 acres of surveyed government land. Claimants were required to “improve” the plot by building a dwelling and cultivating the land.  The Ingalls took part in this act 3 times, 4 if you count Wisconsin.

The Homestead Act, enacted during the Civil War in 1862, provided that any adult citizen, or intended citizen, who had never borne arms against the U.S. government could claim 160 acres of surveyed government land. Claimants were required to “improve” the plot by building a dwelling and cultivating the land.

When Hollywood gets a hold of a literary work to adapt to the small screen or the silver screen, they often change it – a lot.   If you think the TV show wasn’t related to the book and wasn’t part of the propaganda, you would be mistaken.

Upon the death of Laura, Rose obtained the rights to the Little House books, and upon Rose’s death she left the rights to Roger Lea MacBride. MacBride was a Harvard graduate, television producer, author of children’s book, 1976 Libertarian Presidential nominee, and intermittently a Goldwater Republican

Goldwater Republicans are the precursor to the nightmare Republican Party we have today. 

His ideas were the smallest government possible at the federal level (Southern Strategy states’ rights), free enterprise, fiscal conservatism for the poor and working-class, no or low taxes for the wealthy, neoconservative and anti-communist foreign policy, as well as social libertarianism, racism is fine, but marijuana, that should be a choice. 

The characters on Little House are portrayed as a simple, nice Christian family building civilization and making their way on the frontier.  I’m sure they were very nice to other white people.  But the reality was that they were the Shock Troops of colonization.  Little House series is an anti-Indian, selfish, white supremacist retelling of lies, like Thanksgiving in reruns.


Teka Lo, Public Intellectuals

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